It was on the third day of our attempted viewing of Episode I: The Phantom Menace when I turned to my wife and said, “This is the last time I will watch this movie until our future children are old enough for Star Wars.”
Why did it take us three days to reach that point? I kept falling asleep because this movie is boring as shit, dude.
In preparation for the “end” (suuuure) of the “The Skywalker Saga,” the wife and I are watching all eight Star Wars episodes. Without rehashing too much of what I said about these movies four years ago, I wanted to take the time to put my musings down as we embark on this journey to The Rise of Skywalker. You have to start somewhere, and we had no choice but to start with one of the worst movies ever made.
So much has been said about how bad The Phantom Menace is, but holy shit. It is truly abysmal – to the point that it is almost unfathomable how George Lucas could have also made good movies. Each attempt to watch leaves me dumbfounded, bored and incredibly sleepy.
Night one ended with me falling asleep within the first 15 minutes – when Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon first meet Jar Jar Binks. Night two ended not too long after that – when they reach Tatooine. On the third day of Episode I my true love witnessed me dozing off for a few minutes during the final battle. After the flick we realized I also fell asleep when we watched it to prepare for The Last Jedi and again a few months later when I tried to watch it on a plane. Five straight attempts to watch a movie resulting in sleep. Not a great sign!
The Phantom Menace is an embarrassing attempt at making a children’s movie, and it’s childish in all the wrong ways. It is boring beyond belief and equally confusing. Lucas wrote some all-time bad dialogue and clearly was of no help in the director’s chair. It is like an eighth grader wrote a movie, gave people a script and shot everything in one take with absolutely no creativity or concept of what is good and makes sense. Lucas has an uncanny knack for making good actors look like really bad ones throughout the prequels. An overreliance on CGI makes the movie look fake as hell; the completely animated Gungan-droid battle at the end remains my least favorite scene and top pick for ugliest Star Wars set piece ever.
Little Anakin can’t act and Darth Maul is in the movie for like 20 seconds. Qui-Gon Jinn is a prick and lame but is applauded now because Liam Neeson made Taken. Podracing is stupid.
And the movie is a tad, I think, racist. Nute Gunray is out of control. Watto…yikes. Enough has been said about Jar Jar in the last 20 years, but if the Gungans are not offensive by way of racism then they are certainly offensive by being the most annoying fucking characters ever. A bad attempt at making something for children to laugh at, but it was done with the assumption that children are morons and will eat up whatever you give them.
What really got me, though, was the Padme Amidala situation. Keira Knightley plays Sabe, Padme’s double. She spends most of the movie disguised as the queen, while Natalie Portman runs around disguised as a simple handmaiden. In a beautiful moment, “Queen Amidala” tells Padme to clean R2D2…and Padme does it. But there’s a lot of confusion for me here. First of all, way to own your boss. Second, what the fuck?
Queen is an elected position on Naboo. Does nobody know she’s Padme Amidala? Did she just run as “Amidala” and nobody has ever seen her without face paint?
Third, does Qui-Gon not sense this shit through the Force? Does he realize Padme is actually the queen but just plays along so as to not embarrass her?
Finally, why does Padme pick that specific moment when talking to Boss Nass to reveal her true identity? Sabe, in full queen garb, is petitioning Boss Nass for Gungan help in fighting the Trade Federation. She gets nary a sentence out when Padme decides to steal her thunder and simply say she’s the real queen and they need help. I have no idea why Sabe could not have said, “We respect you and are begging for help.” Padme essentially reveals her identity just for George Lucas to show how clever he was, but…what? It isn’t like Sabe’s life was in danger and Padme reveals herself in order to save her.
And after she reveals her true identity, Padme loses all inflection in her voice and speaks nearly every bit as monotone and uninterested as she and Sabe do when they wear the queen suit. Why does she have to change her voice if she has exposed the Queen Amidala persona as total artifice?
It is even more confusing a short time later when Sabe, still dressed as the queen, and Padme lead separate assault groups in the battle against the droid army. Padme’s group is captured and brought before Nute Gunray, who somehow knows she is the queen despite the fact she looks like the other handmaids. Then Sabe shows up and, with one look at her KISS makeup and absurd hair, Gunray thinks she’s the queen. Why the fuck would he think Padme is the queen in the first place then if she’s not dressed all ridiculous?
There is a lot wrong with this movie but Queen Amidala got me this time around. At one point she changes her hair and outfit at least five times in an afternoon:
- Showing up on Coruscant after leaving Tatooine.
- Meeting with Senator Palpatine right after that.
- When Anakin stops by her room a scene or two later.
- She is talking to Captain Panaka or somebody while looking out the window.
- Calling for a vote of no confidence in Valorum.
Bottom line – I’m out on The Phantom Menace for the foreseeable future. So bad, so boring. Anybody who actually likes this movie or thinks it is decent is lying to themselves because they don’t want to believe they wasted more than two hours of their lives on something this lame.
Hopefully I am more fond of the next one.